Search for missing Lauren Cho of NJ continues as Petito case brings light to missing persons
The family of a missing woman named Lauren “El” Cho is renewing calls for help in locating the 30-year-old after the Gabby Petito disappearance and homicide brought national attention to missing person cases.,
The family of a missing New Jersey woman named Lauren “El” Cho is renewing calls for help in locating the 30-year-old after the Gabby Petito disappearance and homicide brought national attention to other missing person cases.
Cho was last seen June 28 around 5 p.m. walking away from a home in Yucca Valley, California, a town in the Mojave Desert east of Los Angeles.
“We are wholly appreciative of the love that continues to be shown to El,” Cho’s family wrote in a Sept. 18 Facebook post on a page dedicated to sharing information about Cho that could lead to her discovery. “We empathize deeply with [Gabby Petito’s] family and hope that both our cases bring forth positive resolution. Somebody knows something. About El, about Gabby…”
The account, created in early July, appears to be run by a sibling who refers to Cho as his or her “sister.”
Cho’s family was not giving out any formal statements at the time of publication, and her family does not have official representation to speak on their behalf.
“The investigation has been a priority for the department since Ms. Cho went missing,” San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department Public Information Officer Mara Rodriguez said in a statement to Fox News Digital on Thursday.
Search efforts were conducted shortly after her disappearance, and the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department executed a search warrant on July 31 in the 8600 block of Benmar Trail of Yucca Valley with seven search K-9s. The department conducted an aerial search of the “remote mountain terrain” where she was last seen on July 24, according to the sheriff’s department.
Cho was staying at an Airbnb resort in Morongo Valley “with numerous other guests, including her former boyfriend,” Rodriguez said.
“It was reported, during the evening of June 28, 2021, Cho was upset and presumably walked away from the resort leaving behind her personal belongings,” the public information officer added. “Approximately three hours later, Cho was reported missing by her former boyfriend, and he indicated she was suffering from mental distress.”
Investigators with San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Specialized Investigations Division are assisting the Morongo Basin Station with its ongoing efforts to locate Cho and have conducted “multiple searches of the area by ground, air and canine with negative results,” Rodriguez said.
The local news outlet Hi-Desert Star identified Cho’s former boyfriend as Cody Orell. Orell told the outlet that he and Cho traveled cross country to Yucca Valley in a van together and that he was the last person to see the 30-year-old before she walked off.
“I searched all in the hills and no tracks, anywhere,” Orell told the Hi-Desert Star. He also suggested Cho got into a vehicle at some point and may not be lost in the desert.
“On Sunday she was going out to meet someone and wasn’t saying who. I didn’t pry into it then, but, of course, now I wish…” Orell said before trailing off, according to the outlet.
Another one of Cho’s friends, Jeff Flake, said in a July 24 Instagram post that the first week after the 30-year-old went missing, there was “a search and rescue operation, with an enormous amount of amazing professionals out here combing the desert, helicopters, volunteers, trackers” and that “the conclusion they came to was that they did not believe El left on foot, as they could not find a single track of hers.”
Yucca Valley is located in the 50,000-square-mile Mojave Desert to the east of Los Angeles and the San Bernardino Mountains and west of Joshua Tree National Park. The valley is sparse and dotted with Joshua trees, Mojave Yucca plants, Juniper bushes, Pinon pine trees and other native plants. Wildlife in the area includes venomous snakes and coyotes. It is not uncommon for people to go missing in the Mojave Desert.
In recent weeks, the disappearance and homicide of 22-year-old Gabby Petito has made national headlines as law enforcement agencies continue to search for the single person of interest in her killing, fugitive Brian Laundrie. Petito’s family created the Gabby Petito Foundation after her death to help parents searching for missing children and victims of domestic assault.